We live in a mobile-first world filled with people who have short attention spans. Also, these people are often using their smartphones while experiencing a weak internet connection. This means your mobile website must be attractive and load instantly for the best possible user experience. Otherwise, people will be exiting your website before they even know what you have to offer.
With nearly 60% of all web traffic coming through mobile phones, if your website isn’t designed for mobile devices, you’re missing out on a lot of potential customers. Google even maintains that mobile-friendly websites show up higher in search results. If you’re not sure whether your website is optimized for mobile devices, there are several online tools that can help you test your website’s mobile usability. One handy tool is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive?
If a website is mobile-friendly that means your website will look the same on a desktop or a smartphone. Nothing will change design-wise. A mobile-responsive website will change based on your screen size. The images and text will adapt and create a better user experience.
If you are on a website and you must zoom in to read anything on the home page, it is probably a mobile-friendly website. You will have the same functionality as you would on the desktop version, but it’s not as easy to navigate. If the text is enlarged, the site is loading quickly and the buttons are easy to click, you are likely viewing a mobile-responsive website.
If you are just getting started or need to make some updates to your mobile web design, we have a few tips to point you in the right direction.
Design Tips for Mobile Web Design
Bigger is better
For mobile websites make sure you are designing with thumbs in mind. Use large buttons and make sure your links have enough space between them so tapping is possible without having to zoom in. When it comes to text, you don’t want users pinching the screen or turning their phones sideways. The text font should be large enough to be read easily while also fitting on the screen. This may require streamlining your design or simply increasing your font size. With a responsive web design, the content will typically stay the same, but the layout might change. For instance, a website viewed on a desktop with 2 sections of content side by side might display on a smartphone with one section below the other.
Don’t let images slow you down
Large, beautiful photos and lots of videos have become the trend for websites, but sometimes they slow down a mobile site tremendously. If you do use large images and videos, compress them to decrease their file size. There are many tools available online that can help you take of this. Be wary of gradients, shadows, and other special effects used in graphic design because they result in enormous files. Using lazy loading can be helpful as well. This means media will download only after the content of the page has loaded.
Another option is to make sure your web developer uses responsive images. Responsive images are a powerful way to optimize your website’s user experience. They allow you to not only display the appropriate image based on device resolution, orientation, or screen size but also avoid time-consuming loading processes that can result in bandwidth waste.
Keep menus simple
Often menus on a desktop site will take up the entire top of the screen or have a drop-down feature showing many more options. This doesn’t really work on a mobile device. Using the hamburger symbol (3 horizontal lines stacked on top of one another) will communicate to users that a hidden menu is available. When users tap on the hamburger icon, they will be shown a full, but refined, menu. Remember to keep your navigational tools clean and text or buttons on the menu spaced apart so that users can effortlessly click the page they intend to view. Nothing is more frustrating than your finger hitting the wrong link because it was too close to another.
Icons will save space
There’s an icon for almost everything. Use these generally understood symbols to scale back your mobile site and make navigation less complicated. Commonly used icons are a quick intuitive way to lead users to take an action. Place a question mark icon on a button for mobile users who have questions or a phone icon to connect customers to your customer support reps. There are many ways to employ these distinct symbols to save space without confusing users.
Site search is important
In many instances, users will go straight to the website’s search bar rather than spend time navigating through your menu of products and services. To illustrate, I can go to the Target mobile website and click the hamburger icon, scroll through the categories, select women, then select bottoms, then select jeans, and finally, select flare jeans, or I can go to the search bar and type “women’s flare jeans”. I think it is obvious which search method will get me to the page I want to view in the least amount of time. Just make sure your site search is structured with the proper filters to deliver relevant results with every search.
Is your website ready?
One more thing – remember that smartphones can do more than desktop computers. With features like built-in GPS, speak-to-text, and the ability to make a phone call by tapping a link on your website, you can’t ignore the importance of a well-designed mobile website for your business. Test your URL today and find out if Google deems it to be mobile-friendly. If Google says you have some work to do, follow our tips to a higher-ranking website.
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